Richard Jefferson didn't care that Jason Kidd failed to assist on a basket for the first time in his 11-year career. Kidd's return from a knee injury has given New Jersey a big...
ATLANTA Richard Jefferson didn’t care that Jason Kidd failed to assist on a basket for the first time in his 11-year career.
Kidd’s return from a knee injury has given New Jersey a big boost.
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“If you look at the games that he’s been back, my scoring in the second half has increased because he gets other people involved,” Jefferson said. “He makes it easier for other people. In the second half, I have a little bit more legs.”
Jefferson scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half, and Travis Best, starting in Kidd’s place, had a season-high 21 to lead the Nets to a 95-90 victory over the Atlanta Hawks last night.
Kidd, who played 17 minutes, hit five of six free throws in the final 33.4 seconds. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Kidd had an assist in each of his first 796 games, including 33 in the playoffs, before last night.
Kidd, who played the final 7:47, finished with four turnovers and was 1 for 5 from the floor. He had nine points and no assists. New Jersey is 3-1 since Kidd returned.
“I don’t have much feel for the game,” Kidd said. “I want to try to speed it up.”
New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank projected that Kidd, who has the fourth-best assist average in league history, would play only 18 minutes after he went a season-high 28 in an overtime victory over New Orleans on Friday night. He had eight points, five rebounds and eight assists against the Hornets.
Frank knows Kidd needs time before he feels comfortable.
“Late in the game, where most point guards have a tendency to slow down, he’s getting push-passes to Richard,” Frank said. “He’s always attacking, and he forces guys to run and I think he keeps the pace going.”
Antoine Walker led the Hawks with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Atlanta committed 20 turnovers, leading to 28 points for New Jersey.
The Hawks lived up to their billing as the NBA’s worst free-throw team, hitting just 12 of 21.
Though Kidd played only five minutes in the third quarter, Eric Williams thought his presence elevated the Nets.
“Jason makes it easier and gives us a level of confidence on the floor, knowing that he’s on the team,” Williams said. “But we’re out here getting repetition.”